POETRY PAGE ONE
COLUMN SEVENTY-FIVE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz
I saw it too that day, I was there, I arose like any other day at the men's
Brushed my teeth, shaved, and tried to find some semi-presentable clothes and took the bus off
Ward's Island to Manhattan, walked off at 125th Street in Harlem south down Broadway and did my usual cons and panhandles on my way down to the clinic for my methadone at 110th St.,
Cathedral Parkway waited in line with the other junkies, got my methadone then me and the pill man lookin? like a bloated Elvis made the connect.
I was gonna take the number 1 train but I decided to panhandle all the way downtown.
Got to 23rd Street to hustle more and kick it with the other pillheads.
I got another 10 or 15 bucks more or less scaming, bullshiting, panhandling and flirting with any nice ass I saw then I went to the park at 23rd st. and Madison across from McDonald's and talked to the other fucked up retards and got three more 2mg Xanax (my favorite),
Then I decided to go to 14th Street, did a bit more hustling on the way down,
It's about 9:20 by now.
As I approached I noticed union square was mobbed, all suits and ties, all facing south,
I asked a guy if some kind of festival was going on, he said he didn't know.
Then I went down to the front of the square through the crowd down to 14th street proper and I asked a suit what was up. "Look up!" he said
'the World Trade center is on fire!"
I looked down Broadway and indeed I saw it.
Fire. The biggest I'd ever seen yet I was so high it didn't seem real.
Huge flames cut through the towers all the way, the flames alone must have been 50 stories high. Looking back I was just like Butt-head, thinking "whoah, they couldn't get a fire hose up THAT high!" It looked to my stoned mind to be an impossible task. In this instance I was right.
But what did I care? I continued to move through the crowds, hustling more change and money.
Now they thought I must be some kind of disaster victim. I think I told some that MY job burned down, in some ironic sense, it did. One woman said to me "How can you panhandle when there's a war going on?? I just shrugged.
There were masses of firetrucks and police cars heading downtown smoke rising up in the south and thousands of confused gawkers. I saw a lot of cops around 14th street and Union Square and on 14th Street but more because it was a reservoir of people, me and the pill men weren't scared,
They were just there for crowd control. I picked up five catapress and 2 more Xanax 2's at least that's what I remember, probably a lot more, after all people were giving me five and ten dollar bills.. I let the day's events hum by in the background like 'the Towering inferno? or "Airport "75?
Was playing on some old TV in the background.
It was my best day ever for panhandling and the dealers were all out in the open.
Getting smashed was definitely the smartest move that day. The retarded were the best prepared!
I walked further down broadway where an angry roving mob was yelling anti-Arab slogans.
It was kind of interesting to be in an angry roving mob.
Late afternoon I found a working subway line (or was it a bus?), and went back uptown to 125th street then to Ward's Island on the bus and all the black dudes were hooting and hollering about it and when I got back to the shelter everybody was gathered around the TV. But I didn't care. It didn't seem real. I think I MIGHT have called my parents and told them everything was OK, I don't remember. I went to my little mattress and locker, past all the black dudes smoking crack,
And proceeded to pass out on my mattress.
NEW YORK SEPTEMBER 2001 ##
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